Newsletter October 2011

The Monthly Newsletter of CREW  //  October 2011  //  Issue No. 54

SPOTLIGHT: CREW names the 14 Most Corrupt Members of Congress

CREW's Most Corrupt Members of CongressspacerFrom bribery to obstruction of justice to serious campaign finance violations, it has been a busy year for lousy lawmakers. This September, we released our annual Most Corrupt Members of Congress report, which takes a bipartisan look at Washington’s worst. Fourteen members were named to the list, while five more garnered dishonorable mentions. A startling 14 of the 19 members on our list are new to it this year, and six are also new to Congress.

Congressional approval ratings are at an all-time low and one look at this list shows neither political party has a monopoly on shady conduct.

CREW sues SEC for illegal document destruction

CongressspacerThink of any major financial scandal in recent history, and there’s likely an open and closed Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation somewhere in its history. Why were the investigations closed? We might never know; the files were destroyed. Turns out, document destruction has been standard operating procedure at the SEC for years. This month we sued in the hopes of forcing the agency to change the policy.

We’re fighting for the public’s right to know all the messy details about these investigations and why no actions were taken against the Bernie Madoffs of the world.

More FEC victories for CREW

FECspacerStop the presses! The Federal Election Commission (FEC) enforced campaign finance laws. Earlier this month, big time Maryland real estate developer Edward St. John was smacked with a $55,000 fine after we caught him reimbursing his employees with corporate money for campaign donations.

Then, in South Carolina, CREW caught Gregory Brown’s 2010 congressional campaign breaking the rules. It was hit with a $4,500 fine. The FEC noted that the fine would have been higher, but the campaign committee was out of business, broke, and had limited ability to raise additional funds.

You could say we’re on a bit of a roll - just last month the FEC levied a $170,000 fine on the Minnesota GOP. We hope the commissioners aren’t worn out by these rare enforcement actions; we have plenty more work for them.

CREW asks court to dismiss the case against John Edwards

John EdwardsspacerIt’s not against the law for a politician to be a hypocritical lying slimeball, but the Justice Department appears to be prosecuting former Senator John Edwards (D-NC) for just that. The former presidential candidate is facing criminal charges for allegedly violating campaign finance laws by conspiring with two benefactors who paid the expenses of his mistress and their daughter during and after his presidential campaign.

Sleazy as this may have been, it’s not a crime. DOJ’s argument that the payments were campaign contributions because they helped preserve Mr. Edwards’ image as a loyal family man is unprecedented; there are no prior criminal cases or FEC enforcement actions based on similar facts. What’s more, the hold-over Bush administration U.S. Attorney who indicted the case announced that he was running for Congress as Republican shortly after the indictment was filed. Because CREW is concerned with the fair and impartial application of our campaign finance and public corruption laws, we filed an amicus brief encouraging the judge to dismiss the case.

There are plenty of politicians from both parties who have committed actual crimes. DOJ should focus its efforts on them.

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